Three Iranian men are facing the death penalty for having gay sex when they were teenagers.
Nemat Safavi, Mehdi P and Moshen G are currently on death row and human rights campaigners warn that their executions are imminent.
Under Iranian law, “Lavat” (homosexual activity between males) is “punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will”.
It has been reported that all three men were under the age of 18 at the time of arrest.
Campaigners claim Mehdi P. and Moshen G. denied the charges, and that no witnesses have testified against them. Safavi was arrested at the age of 16 in 2006, and tried by a court in Ardebil, where he is being held.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the rulings and has called for Iran to revoke the sentences on the grounds that men were minors at the time.
“Killing people for what they did as children is wrong and repellent, and killing them for alleged homosexual conduct is just as wrong and repellent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Campaigners argue that the sentences are a gross violation of international law, which forbids, under any circumstance, the execution of juvenile offenders.
Iran leads the world in executing young offenders according to Human Rights Watch. In 2005 footage of two youths being hanged for homosexual crimes was posted on the internet and sparked media attention worldwide.
When questioned two years ago about gay youths being hunted down and executed in Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded that there were no gays in his country. A statement he later contradicted by accusing political rivals of “officially recognizing thieves, homosexuals and scumbags”.